Rice Noodle-Crusted 'Coco' Fried Shrimp

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Makes about 20 shrimp
Rice noodle-crusted "coco" fried shrimp, made at the LA Times Test Kitchen in El Segundo.
(Kell Lorenz / For The Times; styling by Jennifer Sacks / For The Times)
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These are what seem to be the original “coconut shrimp,” as noted in Vic Bergeron’s 1968 cookbook, “Trader Vic’s Pacific Island Cookbook.” But instead of coconut, the shrimp are coated in crushed rice noodles that have been deep-fried first, so they’re light and crunchy. The texture of the noodles gives the shrimp an extremely light and crunchy coating — similar to the crispy fried edges of Japanese tempura — that makes them fun to eat. Cocktail sauce spiced with more prepared horseradish cuts the fried crunchy shrimp with plenty of nose-tingling heat.


Rice Noodle-Crusted “Coco” Fried Shrimp


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in four batches, add the noodles to the oil and they will crisp up immediately. As soon as they stop making any noise, immediately remove them from the oil with a spider strainer or slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels until completely cool. Remove the pot of oil from the heat.


Transfer the cooled, fried noodles to a large bowl and use your hands to crush them until the size of long-grain rice or shredded coconut. Add the flour, salt, pepper and MSG, if using, and whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together until smooth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.


Dip one shrimp in the beaten egg to coat, then place in the dry mixture and press to coat. Dip again in the egg, then again in the dry mix, pressing to ensure the shrimp is well and evenly coated. Place the shrimp on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining shrimp, egg and dry mix. Cover the shrimp with a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day, to set the coating.


Return the pot of oil to medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Add the shrimp, no more than 6 at a time, and fry until golden brown and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the shrimp out of the oil and drain on paper towels for 1 minute. Transfer the hot shrimp to a serving platter, and serve immediately with cocktail sauce or sweet chili sauce.

Adapted from “Trader Vic’s Pacific Island Cookbook” (Doubleday & Co., 1968) by Vic Bergeron.